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Endpoint

12/22/2015
05:30 PM
Sara Peters
Sara Peters
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2015 Ransomware Wrap-Up

Here's a rundown of the innovative ransomware that frightened users and earned attackers big bucks this year.
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New CryptoWall Versions

Then of course, there's CryptoWall, the big daddy. 2015 kicked off with a new variant of CryptoWall 2.0 that was full of new tricks. It used TOR on command-and-control traffic and could execute 64-bit code from its 32-bit dropper.

When CryptoWall 3.0 arrived on the scene, it was more streamlined and then spread mostly through exploit kits. CryptoWall 3.0 made $325 million in extortion payments in just the first 10 months, according to reports.

Then this fall, Cryptowall 4.0 appeared, using a very different style of ransom note. It was less of a classic "give me all your money" stick-up, and more like a combination of a welcome and threat from a particularly vicious homeowner's association -- urging community members to buy a $700 "software package" to decrypt their files...then urging more strongly.

The ransom note cheerily begins "Congratulations! You have become part of large community CryptoWall!" Yet, it ends with quite a different tone: "In case if these simple rules are violated we will not be able to help you, and we will not try because you have been warned."

CryptoWall 4.0 also upped the creepiness factor by encrypting the filenames in addition to the files.

What do ransomware operators have in store for us in 2016? Only time will tell, but the impressive return on investment and the increasing popularity of cyber-extortion in general

does not bode well for end users or the organizations with an ever-expanding number of endpoints to secure.

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RyanSepe
50%
50%
RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
12/30/2015 | 10:29:06 AM
Re: Ransomware
Yes when there is a lot of feeds to analyze it is difficult to wittle through the genuine events and the noise. That's why it is imperative to hone your security products so the feeds received have a minimal amount of noise.
Dr.T
50%
50%
Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
12/30/2015 | 10:06:25 AM
Re: Game theory
"...value of the data in question."

I agree with you there. There is a real issue in being publicized negatively, maybe ransom is the way to go for certain situations. :--))
Dr.T
50%
50%
Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
12/30/2015 | 10:03:55 AM
Re: Game theory
"suggest that the one-time payment may not be so bad"

That is true. I think they think paying ransom is easier way out than fighting with it, the reality is if they paid once they would most likely pay again.
Dr.T
50%
50%
Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
12/30/2015 | 10:00:46 AM
Re: Ransomware
"The key to successful evasion is to pay more careful attention than ever to screen messages which seem genuine, but for some reason"

Agree. It is just hard to pay attention everything that comes to your face. Sometimes you realize it when it is too late.
Dr.T
50%
50%
Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
12/30/2015 | 9:56:09 AM
Re: Ransomware
"A great way to try and stay ahead of ransomware is user awareness"

Agree. User awareness is key to many of our problems. It starts from there and goes up to finding and holding bad guys responsible. :--))
Dr.T
50%
50%
Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
12/30/2015 | 9:52:54 AM
Encryption?
If they could not recover it because of encryption then we do have a sophisticated level of encryption algorithms that could not be broken yet, that is a actually good news at the same time. :--)))
Dr.T
50%
50%
Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
12/30/2015 | 9:50:31 AM
30%?
 

I am surprised  the number: 30% of organizations paid ransom. That is quite profitable. Why are we not hearing those situation, they must be hiding something. :--))
RyanSepe
50%
50%
RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
12/29/2015 | 9:47:47 AM
Re: Game theory
@Joe, its quite the predicament. I think the decision needs to be made based off the value of the data in question. You do not want to make a habit of paying the ransom but sometimes the detriment of not paying may be too great.
Joe Stanganelli
50%
50%
Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
12/28/2015 | 12:43:36 PM
Game theory
It's interesting because -- at its most basic level -- game theory indicates that you never pay ransom on this sort of thing because you remain -- and have proven yourself -- susceptible in the future.  On the other hand, the fact that ransomware operators are approaching their extortion schemes similarly -- insofar as they have a business to run -- suggest that the one-time payment may not be so bad, because at the end of the day they're in this to make money, and they don't want word-of-mouth or anything else spreading indicating that if you pay the ransom bad things will continue to happen necessarily.
alphaa10
50%
50%
alphaa10,
User Rank: Strategist
12/24/2015 | 12:29:48 PM
Re: Ransomware
Since profitability is the focus of the new wave of ransomware, expect more rapid development and extremely adaptive anti-security measures. The driving objective now is not mere plunder, but the fullest possible extortion routine.

As the writer notes, under threat of data loss, victims can become accomplices in passing along their contagion through social networking. This means the threat vector now includes friends and associates who in some fashion cooperate with the extortioners.

Users, themselves, must understand ransomware of the common type sometimes can be evaded even after the extortion threat message appears-- provided the Windows system is shut down immediately without clicking on the message, while the payload is still confined to system memory.

The key to successful evasion is to pay more careful attention than ever to screen messages which seem genuine, but for some reason-- unfamiliar text, poor grammar, misspellings, etc.-- not quite right. Some message panels are convincing enough to bring a quick click, even if, only a second later, a user realizes that was a mistake.

Almost inevitably, however, user support technicians will not find only a pre-infection situation. Users typically do not know they are in trouble and call for help until they already have clicked on the message.

 

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